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Target, M. (1998). The Recovered Memories Controversy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1015-1028.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:1015-1028

The Recovered Memories Controversy

Review by:
Mary Target

Scharff, J. S. & Scharff, D. E. (1994). Object Relations Therapy of Physical and Sexual Trauma. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Pp. 370.

Hedges, L. E. (1994). Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through Childhood Trauma. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Pp. 336.

Pendergrast, M. (1996). Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives (2nd ed.). Hinesburg, VT: Upper Access. Pp. 746.

Scott, A. (1996). Real Events Revisited: Fantasy, Memory and Psychoanalysis. London: Virago. Pp. 190.

Brenneis, C. B. (1997). Recovered Memories of Trauma: Transferring the Present to the Past. Madison, CT: International Universities Press. Pp. 204.

Sandler, J. & Fonagy, P. (Eds.) (1997). Recovered Memories of Abuse: True or False? London: Karnac Books. Pp. 250.

The impact of trauma, the nature of memory, the proper role of the analyst, these issues are as old as psychoanalysis and at its heart. Over the last ten years, a furore has blown up over memories of abuse reported or reconstructed in psychotherapy, and assumed to have been previously repressed. The controversy began and has remained centred in the United States, but has also rumbled loudly elsewhere, with lobby groups being established by the parents of adults claiming early sexual abuse (several thousand in the US, perhaps 350 in the UK: Weiskrantz, 1997). These groups also included academic psychologists who were deeply alarmed by the reported practices of ‘recovered memory therapists’, and by claims that flew in the face of research evidence on the workings of memory systems and the impact of trauma.

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